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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: July ::
Blackfriars Tag-Team Shakespeare Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0424  Tuesday, 22 July 2008

From:       Hardy M. Cook <
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 >
Date:       Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Subject:    Blackfriars Tag-Team Shakespeare Performance

FROM: PressZoom: A Press Release Distribution Service

Complete announcement: http://presszoom.com/story_145318.html

Blackfriars to Stage World's First Tag-Team Shakespeare Performance

The American Shakespeare Center will present the first known performance ever of 
any play by William Shakespeare to be staged by multiple teams of cast members. 
The experimental production of Antony and Cleopatra will have one single 
performance at the Blackfriars Playhouse on August 1.	

The production is the culmination of a five-week Summer Institute sponsored by 
the National Endowment for the Humanities. The program has brought scholars from 
colleges and universities from around the United States to Staunton to study how 
Shakespeare on stage connects to scholarship and classroom teaching.

(PressZoom) - Staunton, Va. - July 21, 2008 - The American Shakespeare Center 
today announced today that it will present the first known performance ever of 
any play by William Shakespeare to be staged by multiple teams of cast members.

The experimental production of Antony and Cleopatra will have one single 
performance at the Blackfriars Playhouse on August 1. The production is the 
culmination of a five-week Summer Institute sponsored by the National Endowment 
for the Humanities.

We believe this experiment in multiple casting is squarely in the spirit of 
Shakespeare because it will create a uniquely interactive experience for both 
the performers and the audience, said Ralph Cohen, the director of the NEH 
Institute and the founding executive director of the American Shakespeare 
Center. Such a kaleidoscopic performance also represents a kind of postmodern 
approach that will help the audience question the connection between actor and 
character, and perhaps experience the liberating insight that-for all of 
us-human personality is fluid, dynamic, and ever-changing.

Eight teams of actors yielding a cast of nearly fifty will split roles among 
themselves, with each team taking about one-eighth of the show. Quick costume 
changes, sometimes on stage, will allow the audience to track roles as they pass 
from actor to actor.

For the audience, it will be more about following the costumes than the actors, 
said Cohen who, along with Paul Menzer, director of the masters program in 
Shakespeare in Production at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, developed the 
format for the performance. As far as I know, no one has ever done anything like 
this, Cohen says.

Because the actors keep changing, the focus stays right where it should be: on 
the story, the action, and of course, on the language, said Ellen Kaplan, 
professor of acting and directing at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., who 
plays the Clown in the production. This show should be entertaining, a 
participatory experience where the audience is part of the game, figuring out 
who's who in the puzzle of action and putting it all together, rooting for the 
relay teams as they come and go.

Aside from its tag-team casting, the other unusual aspect of the production is 
that some cast members are professional stage actors, while others, including 
Kaplan, are scholars of literature and theatre at colleges and universities 
around the United States. Graduate students from Mary Baldwin College will also 
participate on stage.

[ . . . ]


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